This provocative thriller from critically acclaimed novelist Lior Samson will have you turning the pages with anticipation and thinking about some of the hard choices that medical advances could soon force upon us all. Packed with energy, passion, and technical savvy, The Rosen Singularity is a thriller for our times.
With action sequences taking place in far-flung locations around the world, vibrant and distinctive characters, and thoughtful, yet engaging narratives and conversations, the Rosen Singularity is an intelligently written thriller that is easy to read. At the same time, it examines complex, genuinely provocative medical technology by painting a stark, ugly picture of an exclusive group with access to profoundly superior medical care which allows them to live significantly longer, healthier lives.
The nerdy protagonist, a mathematical biologist, stumbles upon some nearly untraceable data. He then proceeds to aggregate and correlate the separate pieces uncovering a startling, irrefutable scientific breakthrough affecting human longevity. Unwittingly, he unleashes the significant might of a small, extremely powerful cabal determined to harness his brilliant mind and bend it to their will, while protecting dark secrets from public knowledge.
The ideas and story are compelling, but the best part of this book, for me anyway, is the diversity of the characters within and the fact that the human elements are so rich and full. The characters lived within my imagination; I felt their pain, their loyalties, their greed, and their inherent ideals. I rejoiced with them during their triumphs and gasped at their misfortunes. This is an exciting, pulse-pounding story of an unlikely underdog relentlessly determined to shine a light into the dark abyss of secrecy, corruption, and entitlement.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
Excerpt from The Rosen Singularity (Gesher Press, 2011)
[Author’s note: It’s always challenging to choose an excerpt from a thriller. Almost any selection is likely either to be confusing or to give away too much of the plot. Here, therefore, is the Prologue in its entirety, which one hopes is enough to entice the reader into wanting more.]
The keys slipped from Janella’s shaking hand. She did a perfect grand-plié to retrieve them, then struggled to guide the front-door key into the lock.
She was chilled to the core of her small frame. The forty-minute hike down Mass Avenue from Bram’s apartment near the West Somerville line to the icy porch of the white Victorian in
had left her sobered but shivering. She opened the front door, sending a swirl of powdery snow onto the mat inside. She stepped cautiously, but the old wide-board flooring creaked as she entered the darkened house. She paused, listening, trying to control her shaking as she removed her wool tam and placed it with her keys and purse on the stand by the door. The house was silent. Cambridge
She jumped suddenly.
“Oh, shit!” she whispered. She had forgotten the manila envelope with the research paper at Bram’s apartment. “
Douglas will kill me if he finds out.”
Janella, realizing she would have to retrieve the paper, replaced her tam over her dark hair, grabbed her keys from the table, and slipped back out. A dusting of new snow was already beginning to obscure her tracks on the sidewalk. She crossed her arms and set off at a jog in hopes of warming herself. Like a member of the corps de ballet crossing a darkened stage, she ran through the night with sure-footed steps, her long plaid scarf a pink-and-purple banner streaming behind her.
It was long after midnight on a winter weekday, and she ran alone, unnoticed on the deserted streets. Gradually, her pace warmed her, the heat starting in her thighs, then rising and spreading until she had to loosen her fur-trimmed jacket to keep from overheating.
She was almost within sight of Bram’s basement apartment when she finally slowed to catch her breath. As her breathing quieted, the winter stillness deepened. Through the muting curtain of falling snow, she could hear the sound of hurried steps behind her.
With a dancer’s heightened sense of place and position, she waited until the unseen follower was nearly upon her before planting her left foot, kicking off with her right, and spinning around with determined precision.
You use a pen name; what is that about?
My pen name, Lior Samson, is my alter ego. It’s me, but a me in a particular role. It is also, in a sense, my name. Lior is my Hebrew name and Samson was my father’s birth surname, so it is, in a way, just another version of my legal name. The question I most often get asked is why I use a pen name at all. In part it’s about brand identity. As Larry Constantine, I have had 17 non-fiction books published along with a couple hundred professional articles and papers. My fiction comes from such a different place, and a pen name allows me to draw certain lines around these two distinct parts of my life. At the same time, the dual identity is hardly a secret. Just as everyone knows that John le Carré is really David Cornwall, anyone who is curious can quickly find out that Lior Samson is Larry Constantine.
How did you become a writer in the first place?
I sold my first magazine article at age 22 and have been writing professionally ever since. I have even won awards for my writing, but it is only in the last year or so that I have come to think of myself as a writer. The turning point came with an extremely positive review of my second novel, The Dome, from veteran critic Alan Caruba. Here a complete stranger, with no axe to grind and no particular connection to me, was saying that I was a good writer. It started me thinking that maybe I could do this, maybe I was a “real” writer.
Although writing comes naturally for some, and many authors claim that writing is a pleasure, neither has been the case for me. Mastering the craft has been a slow and, at times, arduous endeavor. I was in my fifties before I received my first award as a writer. I would have to say that most of the technical writing that accounts for the vast majority of my oeuvre was not much fun at all. It was only after I started writing novels that the writing itself became a joy, a reward in its own right.
What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?
My wife has been very supportive and helpful, both by “allowing” me to devote the time to writing and by absolutely tearing apart and trashing most of what I write. She is a hard-to-please critic with a sharp eye for spotting bad characterization, clumsy dialogue, or plot holes. And she has an even sharper tongue for expressing what’s wrong with my writing. I love it. She is simultaneously my number-one fan and my biggest critic. My kids think it’s cool that their dad is a novelist, but my mother-in-law still doesn’t buy it. She keeps asking me when my books will be published, meaning, it doesn’t count selling thousands of copies unless it’s with a traditional publishing house. Maybe she’ll finally believe it when the movie versions are in theaters. (Actually, I have already received a draft of the screenplay for Bashert. How cool is that?)
Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?
Idolatry and hero worship are not in my makeup, but there certainly are writers whom I admire and whose work I treasure. At the top of the list would probably be Ursula K. LeGuin, whose rich imagination and deep humanity are coupled with lucid, fluid prose that is among the best writing in the English language today. Alongside her would be Harlan Ellison, whose punchy, idiosyncratic style sometimes borders on poetry and is always provocative. These literary choices reflect my early interest in science fiction, and my first forays into writing fiction were all science fiction short stories, which were recently reprinted in Requisite Variety: Collected Short Fiction.
My writing is still genre fiction, but these days I write thrillers. In this genre, two authors are always first to come to my mind—Francine Matthews, whose first espionage novel, The Cutout, is nothing short of brilliant, and Joe Finder, who consistently delivers modern thrillers with writing a cut-and-a-half above the competition. I would also now add a third, a new, indie writer named Avraham Azrieli, who has launched a wonderfully complex and thought-provoking series of historical thrillers with The Jerusalem Inception and The Jerusalem Assassin.
I have also paid homage to some favorite writers directly in my fiction. Kurt Vonnegut gets center stage in part of Bashert, and Rebecca Goldstein merits mention in The Rosen Singularity for her brilliant and unusual novel 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction.
Tell us about your current release.
The Rosen Singularity is nominally a contemporary thriller with a medical focus, but it defies formulas. It is also a radical departure from my first three thrillers. I hesitate to call them a series, but they do fall in a sequence and share some common characters. The Rosen Singularity is a complete departure, however, a stand-alone story of a different sort. It returns to a theme I first addressed many years ago in, “Death’s Children,” a novella that appears in my science fiction compilation, Requisite Variety.
The Rosen Singularity is a contemporary exploration of longevity and life extension inspired, in part, by the words of the late Steve Jobs, who told the 2005 graduating class of Stanford, “Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” That from a man who was already looking Death in the face and bravely staring it down.
The Rosen Singularity is about Rosen David, a research biologist who does no research. Looking for novel patterns in the work of others, he makes a dramatic discovery. His settled existence becomes complicated and dangerous as he is entangled in the invisible network of an elderly, jet-setting doctor with unusual patients, including a pair of sybaritic
billionaires and the brutal and long-lived African dictator, Edgar Jabari Mbutsu. California
At the same time that the book is a contemporary thriller, it is also a story of personal transformation and transcendence, as well as an unusual love story, a triangle of decidedly odd dimensions. I think I am drawn to such stories of love that defy ordinary assumptions. My first novel, Bashert, is also a thriller that embeds an exceptional love story.
Tell us about your next release.
My next novel, already underway, picks up where my third novel, Web Games, left off. It follows technology journalist Karl Lustig and his wife, Shira Rozeyn, to
England and and into the dark depths of multinational conspiracies that threaten to drop planes out of the sky. Just as Web Games has caused a stir in the cyber-security community, I think this next novel will bring me once again to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security as a novelist with provocative insights into real threats to modern society. Portugal
Do you have a Website or Blog?
I have an author website, liorsamson.com. Although I don’t regularly blog, I do publish occasional short essays on the author website under the title OnWords. The truth is that I think the “blogosphere” is already overcrowded. I would rather write because I have something to say than because my blog needs a new entry. Between writing for my day job as an industrial designer and working on the next novel, it would be hard to find the time and attention needed to feed a steady stream of blog entries.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lior Samson is the pen name of Larry Constantine, a designer and university professor who cops to the charges of being a propeller-head, one whose work life has been mostly about technology while his interests have always been more about people. His life, he says, is dominated by dualities. He lives in New England but teaches at a university in
. He is an award-winning author with 22 published books, including classics in computer science plus four novels and a collection of short fiction. He is a designer of complex industrial systems who teaches students how to make technology simpler for people. His academic background is in computer science—and psychology. When he is not teaching or writing, he cooks gourmet meals for friends and family and composes choral and instrumental music. Portugal
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